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Done With Football?

  |  February 4, 2003   |  Comments

With an audience of 138 million and spots costing $2.1 million, even a boring Super Bowl makes a big impact.

Last year I got a lot of flack for writing a column titled "The Boring Bowl?" Unfortunately, I must again rate the big game a big snooze.

The reason I tuned in to Super Bowl XXXVII is as an advertising geek (and a Patriots fan), I felt I had to watch the advertising at least, since I couldn't care less about either team. After all, the ads cost an average of $2.1 million for 30 seconds, or $70,000 per second, and companies bought them.

On a positive note for us ad folk, some stats look quite positive. Knowledge Networks (KN) Research reported:

Attitudes Toward Super Bowl Advertisers
Statements 2002 (%) 2003 (%)
People care which companies sponsor the Super Bowl. 87 86
Super Bowl sponsors have a commitment to quality and excellence. 74 70
Super Bowl sponsors are industry leaders. 83 85
People pay more attention to commercials during the Super Bowl than to those shown during other special events. 89 90
Base 510 436
Note: Percentages reflect respondents ages 18 to 49 years old who "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed with the statements.

Source: Knowledge Networks/SRI

Whether you enjoyed the game, I'm sure you picked a favorite ad. I think Reebok did a fantastic job with its Terry Tate campaign. There were teasers days in advance of the game. The day of the game, the 60-second "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker" debuted. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

USA Today published results of its annual Ad Meter Panel of 108 adults, who picked the best Super Bowl ads. The resulting top 10 ads are:

  1. Anheuser-Busch -- Football-playing Clydesdales turn to zebra referee to review call on replay.

  2. Anheuser-Busch -- Guy sidesteps "no pets" rule at bar by using his dog as a hairdo.

  3. Pepsi/Sierra Mist -- Zoo baboon catapults to cool off in a nearby polar bear pool.

  4. Anheuser-Busch -- Strongman contest to lift fridge of Bud Light hijacked by fans.

  5. Anheuser-Busch -- Buddy warns guy his fiancée will look like her mother in 20 years.

  6. Reebok -- Terry Tate, "Office Linebacker," enforces office rules with gusto.

  7. Pepsi/Sierra Mist -- Dog cools its master with fire hydrant blast.

  8. Anheuser-Busch -- Beer drinker in clown suit grosses out bar patrons.

  9. Pfizer/Trident -- Fifth dentist from Trident's "four out of five dentists" claim is bitten by a squirrel.

  10. Anheuser-Busch -- Beachgoer's pickup line with conch shell bites him back.

So, what about traffic, you ask? It's tough to get a proper read on traffic because of the worm virus that was spread Friday and Saturday before the game.

According to an independent report from enterprise Web analytics provider Omniture, the worm's most significant effect was a 9 percent decrease in traffic over a one-hour period Saturday. Sunday, traffic dipped by about 21 percent in each half of the game.

To top it all off, some advertisers didn't have back ends in place to support their advertising efforts, resulting in forced time outs for many angry users. Surprisingly, Cadillac and Philip Morris had the most problems, as reported by users. Sony, FedEx, Levi's, and McDonald's were seamless, according to Keynote, a Web performance testing company.

SuperBowl.com, the official Super Bowl Web site, attracted 359,000 unique visitors on the day of the game, according to audience measurement service Nielsen//Net Ratings. Most viewers logged on just before or just after the game. Viewers were not just the typical male sports fans. The site drew women, older people, and more educated people.

Let's face it; even if the game's a snoozer, it's always a major TV event. The Web gets a lot of play. Almost every ad was tagged with a URL. That's worth some attention.

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Seana Mulcahy

Seana Mulcahy is vice president, director of interactive media at Mullen (an IPG company). She's been creating online brands since before the first banner was sold. Her expertise includes online and traditional media planning and buying, e-mail marketing, viral marketing, click-stream analysis, customer tracking, promotions, search engine optimization and launching brands online. Prior to Mullen, Seana was vice president of media services at Carat Interactive. She's built online media services divisions for three companies and has worked with clients spanning financial, telecom, high-tech, healthcare and retail. Not surprisingly, she has taught, lectured and written about the industry for numerous trade associations and publications.

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